Only 4 games are scheduled on NBA Thursday night and all four should provide plenty of entertainment. The first, which airs as TNT’s early game, has the best team in the Western Conference heading east to battle the Washington Wizards.
Golden State has reasserted itself. The Warriors are tied with the Denver Nuggets with the best record in the conference. Overall, Milwaukee and Toronto are only ahead of the Warriors and Nuggets by a game or two. Steph Curry and company will be heavy favorites to beat the Wizards. Washington’s struggling but we must dig deeper because the Warriors don’t always cover as favorites. One of the major reasons you’re going to see larger lines on the defending champs is the return of Demarcus Cousins, which should have the entire league petrified.
TNT’s other nationally broadcast battle has the L.A. Lakers hosting the Minnesota Timberwolves. LeBron’s listed as doubtful, and is probably not going to play. The Lakers have maintained an above .500 record even with LeBron on the bench but must now find a way to deal without Lonzo Ball, who they’ve lost to a hand injury. Even with the Timberwolves presenting as a tight commodity, they’re still going to be tracking in NBA on TNT free picks because of the lack of star power on the Lakers.
In other action, the Pelicans try to stay afloat against a scorching hot Oklahoma City Thunder squad while the Blazers battle the Suns. Let’s dive in.
[Thursday, Jan. 24]
Golden State Warriors -9.5 at Washington Wizards (8pm ET)
The Warriors head to Washington looking like easy winners. Golden State is on an 8 game streak. They went 5-2-1 ATS in those 8. Trends point to Steph’s team covering because they’re 5-1 ATS in their last 6 versus the Eastern Conference and 5-1 in their last 6 on the road against a team with a winning percentage above .600.
However, Washington’s got some hot trends as well. The Wizards are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 at home, 8-2 ATS in their last 10 when their last opponent scores 100 points or more, and 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games.
In 3 of their last 5, Washington’s beaten Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Toronto. That’s the 3 best teams in the Eastern Conference. Getting past Golden State is a tall order, but that inviting point cushion gives you a lot of wiggle room. The Wizards have a great shot to cover as a home dog while riding the recent wave they’ve hit since John Wall’s season-ending surgery.
NBA on TNT Free Picks: Wizards +9.5
New Orleans Pelicans at Oklahoma City Thunder -12.0 (8pm ET)
The Pelicans lost to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night as part of a brutal schedule that includes 5 straight road games before a one day break on Jan. 22. As you’d expect, the team isn’t doing well without Anthony Davis who will remain sidelined until at least next week with a finger injury.
Oklahoma City, meanwhile, has . Some of the trends bear that out. The Pelicans are 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 on the road versus a team with a home winning percentage greater than .600, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 playing on 0 days of rest, and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 in Oklahoma City. Russell and PG-13 all the way. The NBA is a star driven league, and while the Pelicans can be competitive with Davis, they’re a punching bag without him against a team like this.
NBA Free Pick: Thunder -12.0
Portland Trail Blazers -7.5 at Phoenix Suns (9pm ET)
Oklahoma City beat the Trail Blazers by 9 on Tuesday night. Portland could bounce back with a decent game on Thursday on the road versus the Suns. They dominated Phoenix the last time they played them 108-86. Not only that, hot trends point to a Blazers win and cover.
Portland is 5-0 ATS in their last 5 following an ATS loss, 5-0 ATS in their last 5 playing on a day of rest, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 following a straight up loss, and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous.
Those are excellent trends, but it’s not like the Suns have no shot in this matchup. Not only has Phoenix gone 5-3 ATS in their last 8, the situation sets up for a possible Suns’ cover. They’re 5-1 ATS in their last 6 following an SU loss of 10 points or more, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 versus the Western Conference and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous.
Portland looks vulnerable. This is a good time to take a swing on the Phoenix moneyline and hope they win their twelfth game this season.
NBA Free Pick: Suns +250 ML
Minnesota Timberwolves -1.5 at Los Angeles Lakers (10:30pm ET)
Trail Blazers-Suns doesn’t get the heart pumping, but let’s be honest, neither does Timberwolves-Lakers without LeBron. But, TNT insists on showing Minnesota-L.A. even though the T’Wolves are below .500. Unless LeBron gets back, the Lakers will join them.
There aren’t many positive trends for either team in this one. The Lakers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 on Thursday. They’re also 6-2 ATS in their last 8 following a loss of more than 10 points. Other than those two trends, it’s all bad news.
L.A. is 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 at home, 1-4-1 ATS in their last 6 playing on 2 days rest, and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 versus a Northwest Division team. The T’Wolves are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 playing on 1 day of rest. Minnesota’s also 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings. Going with the road team because LeBron probably won’t hit the court until next Tuesday versus the 76ers.
NBA on TNT Free Picks: Timberwolves -1.5